Focus on Research: Holly Kundel ‘19, Goldwater Scholar

Junior biology major Holly Kundel ‘19 is Augsburg’s newest Goldwater Scholar. Holly, who is also pursuing minors in environmental studies and mathematics, has been involved with research at Augsburg since the summer after her first year when she worked with Dr. Emily Schilling on a project related to the Canada Darner dragonfly. She is also a member of Tri-Beta, the Augsburg Honors Program, and Campus Ministry.

Holly Kundel

The Goldwater Scholarship a premier award available to students in the country, and will provide tuition assistance for her senior year of undergraduate study and set her apart in her future graduate school applications. She aspires to earn a PhD in environmental biology, focusing specifically on freshwater ecosystems and the impact of climate change on these systems, including pollution prevention and ecosystem restoration.


Holly is the seventh Auggie to earn this prestigious award. Today on the blog, we caught up with her to learn more about how she became interested in her research field, what the process of applying for the Goldwater was like, and where she’s going next.


What led you to first apply for research at Augsburg? Did you have experience with research in high school?


I first applied for research when I was a first year because I really liked biology, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with a biology degree. I started asking around for summer work hoping to find something that I enjoyed. Dr. Emily Schilling was one of the professors who taught my AugSem and my second semester of introductory biology, so I approached her to talk about research. She told me that her summer project was dealing with a rare dragonfly species and that we would be doing field work instead of lab work like most URGO students. Even though I didn’t know much about insects, the thought of getting to spend my summer outdoors was really nice, so I decided to apply and try something new. I had never done research before, but I thought I would try it out to see if this was maybe my calling.


How have your research experiences changed the way you approach your academic courses?


My research has taught me to pay attention to detail while keeping the big picture in mind. It has also taught me that sometimes even great ideas don’t work out, so you just have to keep trying. The lessons that I have learned in research have helped keep me going when classes get tough because I remind myself to keep trying, even if the material is difficult. Research has also taught me that collaborating with other students can be very helpful. The more people you have, the more brain power you have, and it is especially nice to have people to bounce ideas off of. I’m lucky to be able to work with other amazing Auggies in my research, because they have all taught me a lot. This has led me to want to partner with others when working difficult homework assignments. When we work together, we not only get to learn with the people we’re working with, we also get to teach them what we know.

Photo of Holly Kundel with faculty mentor, Emily Schilling, and research poster








Explain the process of working on your Goldwater application. Were there departments, groups, clubs, or activities at Augsburg that made a difference in your thinking or assisted with your app?


When working on the Goldwater Application, I worked very closely with the URGO office, particularly with Dixie and Kirsten. I would turn in drafts for them to look at and they would either email me feedback or I would meet with them in person. I turned in about 5 or more drafts — I honestly lost count. Dixie and Kirsten read through every one, telling me where I should elaborate, what could be cut out (because every question had a word limit), and what needed to change. With every revision I saw my application get better and better, and they helped me tell my story. I also worked closely with my research mentor, Dr. Emily Schilling. Emily helped me write the required essay. We were limited to three pages, including figures and references, and I had to write about a research proposal or a past project. I chose to write about the research I did during the summer of 2017 where we studied the phenology of the Canada Darner dragonfly. Emily helped me cut the essay down to the appropriate length in a way that all of my thoughts could still be included. I’m very grateful for everyone that gave me feedback so I could improve my application!


What was the most challenging part of your application, and how did you meet that challenge?


The most challenging part of the application for me was explaining my future goals in detail. Although I am very confident that I want to go on to graduate school for freshwater ecology, I’m still trying to figure out where to go and what specific topic I’d like to study. While working on the application, I had to research on the [biology] programs that different schools offered, and I had to try to be more specific with what I would do in graduate school. I was able to overcome this challenge by talking with Dr. Schilling, Dixie, and Kirsten. They were really good at helping me put all of my big broad ideas into specific sentences. I’m someone who likes to hear how things sound out loud, so I was able to answer the questions when describing my goals to these three much more clearly than when I was typing them on my own. I also took honors junior colloquium this year, and for one of our classes, Dixie and Kirsten came along with some Augsburg seniors who had done applications in the past. Hearing the other students speak about their writing process was helpful.


How has your research informed what you want to do post-Augsburg? Did winning the Goldwater affect any of those plans?


Ever since that first summer after my first year, where I did field work with Dr. Schilling, I’ve been hooked on freshwater ecology. Before I tried research, I thought I might be a pharmacist, but freshwater ecology makes more sense. I love being outdoors! My grandparents have a small cabin that I’ve been visiting since the day I was born. I really love the Midwest, and Minnesota in particular. We are so lucky to have so many beautiful lakes and rivers to visit. When I learned that I can do research and apply my biology knowledge to learning more about freshwater ecosystems and how to protect them, I knew it was my vocation. My research has shown me what I want to study in graduate school. I previously thought that I would go on to get my masters, but after going through the whole application process and winning the award, I believe that I want to get my PhD. I love research and couldn’t think of a better job for myself. It can be discouraging to be told that I should be pursuing a career in the medical sciences instead of working on protecting the environment. However, I know how important it is to study freshwater, especially in Minnesota. We rely on freshwater for drinking water, recreation, transportation, agriculture and so much more. We need people to study freshwater ecosystems because these ecosystems are precious, fragile and in need of protection, and that’s exactly what I want to do.


What advice do you have for current Auggies who are considering summer research or graduate school?


I’d advise them to go for it! Don’t let your fear of rejection stop you from trying. If your application isn’t picked for something one year, don’t be afraid to apply next year! We are blessed with such kind and knowledgeable faculty, so get to know them. Ask them what they study and what sorts of projects they have available to work on. Ask them about their experience with graduate school and for tips on how to apply. Our faculty are so great, but they can’t help you if they don’t know you and if you don’t ever meet with them. Even if you have no idea what you want to do with your degree, they can help point you in the right direction. Also, don’t be afraid to try something new, you may absolutely love it! Before I started research I didn’t know anything about dragonflies, and now I consider them to be my favorite animal. I even spent my last Saturday at a dragonfly ID workshop for fun because I find them to be so interesting! But I wouldn’t have ever known if I never tried. I’d also recommend using the great resources on campus such as the URGO Office and the Strommen Center to learn about research opportunities on and off campus and other jobs and internships, too.

Photo of Holly Kundel holding a dragonfly

Focus on Fulbright: Rachel Frantz ‘17, Malaysia

Rachel Franz

If you were searching Augsburg for a future marine biology PhD student or a future Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, you might first look in Hagfors, the Science Hall, or Lindell Library. Rachel Frantz ’17 is a biology department alum now pursuing both of those dreams, but you could find her all over campus in her time as an Auggie. Not only did she study and tutor in Lindell and the Science Hall, Rachel also led the lacrosse and cross country teams as a captain in the Kennedy Center, sang with the choir in the Anderson Music Hall, represented her class as part of student government in Christensen, and threw mugs and sculptures as an avid ceramics student the Old Main studio.


When it came time to make post-graduate plans, then, it makes sense that she wanted to keep her options open.

Rachel is currently overseas in Sarawak, Malaysia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA), but from September through December of 2017, she completed her first semester as a graduate student in marine biology at the University of Southern California (USC). We caught up with her to ask a few questions about how she decided on and pursued these paths and what advice she has for other Auggies on their way.

What led you to apply for Fulbright? For your PhD? Why both at the same time?

I applied for Fulbright after Kirsten emailed me about the program the summer before my senior year. To be honest, I had not even considered applying! I figured a program that involves teaching English abroad would only be interested in people obtaining education degrees or English degrees. My sights were set solely on grad school. I knew I wanted to continue my education in animal sciences and I was ecstatic to finally decide on marine biology.

The staff in the URGO office encouraged me to apply to anything I thought might be a good opportunity. Even if this meant twice the work, I am so glad they pushed me to apply. I first heard of my grad school acceptance and cried tears of joy in my biochem lab. A FUTURE! WOO! I figured the Fulbright application was pointless and debated quitting the app several times, but here I am, writing this interview from a small coffee shop in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Explain the process of working on your applications. Were there departments, groups, clubs, or activities at Augsburg that made a difference in your thinking or assisted with your app?

The grad school apps were all relatively similar. Each required a personal statement and often one other essay along with general academic information. With PhD programs, you have to first secure an “in” with a professor at your desired school, so start reaching out early! I had several phone conversations before I sent in any applications. Fulbright was similar but allowed for more expression of personality rather than academics.

URGO was the greatest resource for me throughout the application process, but my professors (namely biology professors) were equally as supportive. Everyone I asked was happy to help write a letter of recommendation and a few offered to help read through my essays for grad school.

Rachel Franz with students

What was the most challenging part of your application, and how did you meet that challenge?

Finding a voice for myself through my writing was the most difficult part. I am not a writer. I completed a college-credit writing course in high school, so as a biology major at Augsburg, I wasn’t required to take a single English class. Writing about myself was the most challenging aspect of the applications for grad school and for Fulbright. I spent many hours with Kirsten and Dixie in the URGO office going through my INCREDIBLY rough drafts. All of the URGO staff was encouraging and helpful throughout this stressful process. Their goal is to help you best articulate yourself for the job/school/fellowship you are applying for. I would not have finished my essays on time if I hadn’t had their help (and deadlines!).

What does your typical day look like in Sarawak? How does this compare to your typical day in the Marine Biology department at USC?

There is no such thing as a “typical” day in Sarawak, Malaysia! I am currently serving my ETA year in Bintulu, Sarawak, which is an oil and gas town of about 170,000 people. My school, Sekolah Menegah Kebangsaan (SMK) Bintulu, is the largest secondary school in all of Malaysia with a whopping 3,500 students. My day starts at about 6:00 am when I wake up and head to school. Classes begin for the older students at 6:30 a.m. I teach a couple of classes in the morning, help out with field hockey practice, and have lunch in the school canteen when the older students head home at 12:30 pm. Cue the influx of the younger students. I then teach a few classes in the afternoon before track practice. I’ve loved getting involved with the co-curriculum activities here! I coach track, field hockey, and netball (like basketball with ultimate frisbee rules), along with helping the debate team and the choir. After sweating through my baju kurung (teaching dress), I finally head home around 6:30 pm. My roommate and I drive to get some dinner at a local food stall where we share our crazy stories from the day. I love the constant curve balls thrown at me here in Malaysia!

As a PhD student at USC, my day began with a 6:00 am commute via the train and my bike. I then headed to my TA class lecture before running across campus to my oceanography class. After struggling to understand the content, I went to the lab to teach introductory biology lab. To finish out the day, I ran up three flights of stairs to my advisor’s lab to take care of my sea anemones! By then, the sun had set and it is time to hit up one of the three gyms on campus. I would go to water polo practice to de-stress from the day before biking home, stopping at Subway on the way where the sandwich artist knows my order. My brain was constantly exercised here as my classes challenged me each day!

How has your semester at USC informed your Fulbright ETA? How do you think spending a year in Malaysia will influence the rest of your time at grad school, and beyond?

Being a grad student at USC honestly showed me how much a needed a gap year. I put a lot of pressure on myself to go to grad school right away for financial reasons. I do not regret jumping straight into my PhD program, but I am very thankful for this Fulbright year away from 1) school, 2) the states, and 3) a culture focused on individual success. Teaching in Malaysia solidifies my passion for teaching, and I do want to continue my education with the dream of becoming a professor, but I don’t know if I will be going back immediately upon return to the states.

In all honesty, I will not be going back to USC. I want to shift my focus within marine biology to a different topic that will be best studied at a different school, which means I will be applying all over again! The culture at USC is also very different than that at Augsburg, and I don’t see myself thriving in that setting. Being away from the US has forced me to really assess what I am passionate about and how I want to carry myself in this world. USC taught me a lot about what to expect from a grad program, but it also showed me what I want to avoid when applying for a different grad program.

What advice do you have for current Auggies who are considering Fulbright or graduate school, or who may be split on their plans?

For Fulbright: Do it. Though Fulbright is a big name, apply anyway. They want a diverse group of humans representing the US and serving as global ambassadors. Especially as someone who did not get the chance to study abroad, this program is well run, well known, and I’ve made amazing friends here from US and from Malaysia. Exploring another culture by working in the community is an excellent way to learn. I cannot express how grateful I am for this program.

For grad school: Do it. Though USC is ultimately not the right fit for me, I now have a better idea of what to expect. If you think you may have even a 1% chance in getting accepted to a program, apply (I got rejected from 3 of my 4)! You may regret not applying, but I’ve found I don’t regret trying!

Final word of advice: It’s OK to not know what you want to do or to be unsure if your decision is the correct choice for you. You can ALWAYS change your path.

Interested in applying for graduate school or for a Fulbright grant? Make an appointment in the URGO office today, located in the Hagfors Center, Suite 100. You may also keep up with Rachel’s adventures by following her blog, Rachel Franz with a group of students

Summer Research Spotlight: African American Military Service in WWII

The URGO Summer Research Program is an 11-week, on-campus program where students are funded to conduct research with a faculty mentor. Students receive support throughout the research process from their faculty mentor, a Speaker Series, and weekly seminars with fellow researchers.Photo of Grant Berg

Grant Berg, a Pre-law Political Science and History double-major with a minor in Communication Studies, conducted research with Dr. Michael Lansing in the summer of ‘17. Dr. Lansing and Berg looked into the history of the St. Paul Rondo community during the early to late 1940’s and the African American men and women who served in the armed forces. Grant shares his summer research experience below.

My research was initially going to focus only on the Montford Point Marines, the first black Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officers that were recruited for WWII. This piqued my interest especially because the Marine Corps had a 200-year ban on African American men from joining the program. Other branches of the armed forces also blocked African American men from combat roles. To broaden the scope of the research, my mentor Dr. Michael Lansing, chair of the Department of History here at Augsburg, suggested we look more into every branch of the military at the time, and to narrow the research to the St. Paul Rondo community. That gave me the amazing opportunity to go into the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society and examine the oral histories of black veterans from the community who either grew up or lived in the Rondo community.

I stumbled upon many interesting finds in the piles, such as correspondence between a Minneapolis military chaplain, turned civilian pastor, and a young U.S. House representative from Texas named Lyndon B. Johnson. Other finds were the seemingly forgotten effort by the Navy and Army Surgeon General to impose a rule against black people from donating blood for the war effort. This was called out by the African American press, who utilized science to disprove the argument that black blood and white blood could not be mixed.

Because racial bias and discrimination drive many current issues, we have to talk about and preserve this nation’s history when it comes to minority groups and their push for basic freedoms that other citizens enjoy. 

Throughout this experience I learned how to be a more informed leader about the communities around me, how the historical injustices of the past directly impact us today, and how to use historical knowledge to change things today. Through this I can be a better student here at Augsburg as well as a better ally to those struggling for justice.

Grant Berg is an honors student who takes pride in cultivating a productive campus environment through community service and political activism. Grant is currently Honors House Hesser co-president, and an intern with the Amy Klobuchar for Minnesota re-election campaign.

The information packet and application for URGO Summer Research are now posted on the URGO website. Now is the time to get started!

If you have any questions about the research program or the application, please contact us at


Summer Research Spotlight: Diversity in MN Book Awards

Photo of Gabe BensonThe URGO Summer Research Program is an 11-week, on-campus program where students are funded to conduct research with a faculty mentor. Students receive support throughout the research process from their faculty mentor, a Speaker Series, and weekly seminars with fellow researchers.

Gabe Benson conducted research this past summer under the mentorship of English Professor, Sarah Groeneveld.  Gabe shares his reflections on his summer research experience below.

What was your project?

My project focused on fifty Minnesota Book Award-winning novels and how they were (and were not) representative of diversity by comparing it to Census data of Minnesota. I read twenty-five adults novels and twenty-five young adult novels and kept track of primary characters, secondary characters, and tertiary characters. I then kept a list of the gender, race, and sexual identity of these characters.

What did you learn?

I learned that, in most cases, the novels greatly represent minority groups. This was the case for black, Latino, Native American, and LGBTQIA+ people. Women and Asians were both underrepresented.

How did this project help you grow and develop academically?

Reading such a large number of novels in such a short amount of time was immensely gratifying. I feel like I am now more aware of character diversity in the books that I read and how those characters are (or are not) reflective of the diversity of society around me. Also, being held accountable was challenging but gratifying. Working on my own most days was a new experience for me, and I definitely grew from it.

What would you like to see happen with your research?

I would like to continue exploring certain facets of my research (e.g. intersectionality, author identity, etc.) and also continue the research as each year of the awards gives new awards for fiction and young adult fiction. I would like to one day get it published.

What was the hardest part? The easiest?

The hardest part was the point in my research experience where I was faced with a mountain of data from fifty novels, and I needed to turn it into a thesis. That was very intimidating, but it was very gratifying to see it come to fruition. The easiest part was getting to read all day as a full-time job. Reading is my favorite activity, so it was a pretty awesome experience to have gotten paid to read novels all summer.

What advice would you give Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts (SSHA) summer researchers?

My advice to SSHA students is that you will need an overly specific grant proposal. Four-hundred hours in ten weeks may seem plausible to tackle a topic, but I think SSHA students need to focus on how their research idea can fill eight hours in a day. I can propose that I will study Beethoven’s symphonies as my topic, and that could fill 400 hours, but what will you be doing those eight hours of your work day? Will you be listening to music for eight hours? Probably not. You need a plan for each day that is realistic and reachable. You can make a research proposal looking at something that you love, but it can sound plausible to fill 400 hours with something you love, but those eight hours can often be daunting when you begin the day. For me, I read a whole novel each day. This is not something everyone can do, but I went to different libraries, different coffee shops, and different spaces to shake things up and keep me active so I wouldn’t be sitting in my house all day. It may seem hard to make such a detailed plan for your research, but I think it is necessary.

Please join us at one of URGO Summer Research Information Sessions to learn more about the program, hear from past summer researchers, and get the inside scoop on the application process.

Tuesday, November 28th @3:30 in the Marshall Room

Wednesday, November 29th @6pm in OGC 100

Interview conducted by Grant Berg

Meet the 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholars


Photo of Dustin ParksDustin Parks ‘17

  • B.A. in Economics and Finance
  • 2016 URGO Summer Researcher with Dr. Stella Hofrenning in Economics
  • Mayo Innovations Scholar
  • Fluent in Spanish

Traveling to Peru to conduct research on entrepreneurial education.

Dustin’s project will investigate the strengths and limitations of entrepreneurial coursework at the secondary level in the national, Peruvian education. He plans to use his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar to pursue a PhD in economics after his time in Peru.




Photo of Hannah SchmitHannah Schmit ‘17

  • B.A. in Sociology and Religion
  • Minor in Biology
  • 2015 & 2016 summer research assistant with Dr. James Vela-McConnell in Sociology
  • Honors Program graduate
  • Choir member

Traveling to Czech Republic to be an English Teaching Assistant.

Hannah plans to engage with the Czech community with her musical skills and through volunteer work at a community outreach center. On her return, she plans to pursue a master’s in Public Health or Administration.



Photo of Hannah FreyHannah Frey ‘15

  • B.A. in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­International Relations and History
  • Honors Program graduate
  • Currently employed by AmeriCorps as a Digital Literacy Coordinator
  • Fluent in Korean

Traveling to South Korea to be an English Teaching Assistant.

Hannah plans to connect with the community by speaking their language and participating in dance and cooking classes. After her time in Korea, she plans on enrolling in a graduate program for International Affairs or Foreign Service and then working for the State Department of the United States.




Photo of Rachel FrantzRachel Frantz ‘17

  • B.S. in Biology
  • 2014-2015 academic-year researcher with Dr. Kevin Potts in Biology
  • Two sport athlete (lacrosse and cross country), captain, and coach
  • Choir member
  • Also accepted to PhD in Marine Biology at USC-Los Angeles (full-ride)

Traveling to Malaysia to be an English Teaching Assistant.

Rachel plans to bring her skills from tutoring, coaching, and docenting and her passion for the environment into the classroom. She will attend six months of graduate school, teach for a year in Malaysia and then return to her PhD studies.

On Campus Research- Learn More about the Opportunities Available for SSHA majors interested in Research!

The URGO Summer Research Program is an 11-week, on-campus program where students are funded to conduct research with a faculty mentor. Students receive support throughout the research process from their faculty mentor, a Speaker Series, and weekly seminars with fellow researchers.


Chau Nguyen ’17 is an Accounting and Management double major who conducted research with Dr. Walley in the summer ‘15. Nguyen’s research was focused on understanding monetary policy shock in emerging economies with a focus on Brazil. Nguyen is an active member of the Augsburg Community, serving as Vice President of the International Student Organization ’14-’15, as well as being a strong academic student.

It is not uncommon for students to struggle with the decision of when they want to partake in research and why they may be interested in it. “I went to the Orientation and was inspired by the success stories of many students who have done research before. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but after speaking to my advisor, she thought I should apply for the experience and to figure out what I’m interested in in the process. It was a great opportunity to obtain new skills, such as researching, and data collection that have become extremely helpful for my academic career.”

Research may be a challenging experience. The process of choosing a project you are interested in, as well as the process of learning to ask the right questions, and learning to work independently can often be a daunting aspect. However, it doesn’t come without benefits. “We had weekly meetings where we talked about our progress and findings. I loved it because it’s the only time I get to sit with a group of peers and talk about the project (most of the time I worked on my own, which is different from STEM). I also developed a strong relationship with my research mentor. As the project progressed, Dr. Walley got to know me as a student, as well as, as a person. This relationship has been pivotal in honing down where my passions lie. Having a chance like this to do something you are interested in or passionate about is a great experience that you can’t easily get later on in your career.”

Nguyen participated in the URGO Summer Research in the Summer of 2015, and proceeded to work in the accounting department as an Intern at a local Minneapolis company. “The on-campus research experience was invaluable. It gave me applicable skills that I can use in other courses, as well as better equipped me for my future career. Interestingly enough, it influenced me to switch my major to Accounting. I’m applying for my Master in Accountancy and will continue to use the skills that I learned during research in future work.

We, the Augsburg Community wish Chau the best as she prepares for graduation and the next steps in her career!

URGO provides full-time summer researchers (400 hours) with a $4,000 stipend and housing discount while half-time researchers (200 hours) receive a $2,000 stipend. The program runs from May 15th – July 28th.
URGO also provides funding for students to work for a professor as a research assistant on an ongoing research project. This is a 100-hour commitment over the course of the summer and comes with a $1,000 stipend. This is an excellent opportunity to try out research for the first time or focus on a specific aspect of a research project.
Phase 1 of the applications are due February 1st!

URGO applications for 2017 summer research are now available on the URGO website at

All fields of study welcome! If you have any questions, email us at

The URGO office is located on the first floor of the Science building, SCI 152.


On-campus Research- Learn more about Auggie who participated and thrived in on campus research!

The URGO Summer Research Program is an 11-week, on-campus program where students are funded to conduct research with a faculty mentor. Students receive support throughout the research process from their faculty mentor, a Speaker Series, and weekly seminars with fellow researchers.


Ellie Peters ’18 is a Chemistry major and Biology minor who conducted research with Dr. Wentzel in the summer ‘16. Peters’ research focus was broadly in Organic Chemistry. After enrolling and excelling in Organic Chemistry, Dr. Wentzel and Ellie made a connection. “It turned out that we were both thinking that I might be a good addition to his research team for the summer.”

Peters’ is a highly active member of the Augsburg Community. She is both a student athlete as well as a board member of the Augsburg Chemistry Society (ACS) ‘16 and will serve as the President of ACS in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“It is definitely difficult to balance a rigorous academic schedule with jobs, volunteering, and other commitments. Adding research into that list stretched me pretty thin, but I can’t think of anything more worth my time. As for a social life, it was already hard to keep up an active social life, but research honestly helped me with this aspect. Not only did I gain valuable, really great relationships with Dr. Wentzel and other professors through research, but I also got to know and become good friends with other student researchers inside and outside of my group. These relationships and friendships have continued to grow long after the summer and I am positive that many will continue for life.” Although it may be a challenging experience, and requires time management skills, summer research experiences have always shown to be both beneficial to forming relationships with professors as well as honing down where ones interests lie beyond ones undergraduate career.

Peters’ conducted research at the end of her sophomore year, and continued with it during the 2016-2017 academic year. “Before doing research, I was planning on applying to medical school. After doing research, I am honestly undecided about what I would like to do. I am still planning on applying to medical school, but am also considering going to graduate school or working in industry and am hoping to have a research aspect in any future possible medical career. What this experience has really influenced regarding my future career goals is that it has made me know that I could be happy following a number of different paths.”

It is important to reach out to professors early on in your academic career in order to build relationships with professors as well as students within your selected major. Such experiences provide a plethora of opportunities beyond on campus research, based primarily on your interests. URGO provides full-time summer researchers (400 hours) with a $4,000 stipend and housing discount while half-time researchers (200 hours) receive a $2,000 stipend. The program runs from May 15th – July 28th.
URGO also provides funding for students to work for a professor as a research assistant on an ongoing research project. This is a 100-hour commitment over the course of the summer and comes with a $1,000 stipend. This is an excellent opportunity to try out research for the first time or focus on a specific aspect of a research project.
Phase 1 of the applications are due February 1st, so start talking with your faculty before break to learn about what research is going on in your department!

URGO applications for 2017 summer research are now available on the URGO website at All fields of study welcome! If you have any questions, email us at The URGO office is located on the first floor of the Science building, SCI 152.



                                                                                                                                            Wentzel research ‘16 research team


Off-Campus Research Programs: Pursue your goals, meet new people, explore a new city

Each year students apply to participate in off-campus summer research programs, where they are paid to conduct research with some of the nation’s top academics at universities, labs, or institutes. There are programs designed for students in the sciences and social sciences and they often include a research stipend and housing. These off-campus research opportunities provide students with the chance to meet and work with faculty who are in the top of their field. It additionally provides students with the opportunity to explore a new city, whilst exploring possible career routes post-graduation.

Winter break is the perfect time to check out URGO’s list of off-campus summer programs to find those that best fit your interests, and to start on the applications.

Then, join URGO for our Off-Campus Summer Research Application Workshop, Saturday, Jan. 14 10a.m.-2p.m in Sverdrup 201 to get individualized feedback and make progress on your applications. URGO staff will also be available for appointments to advise you through this process.

Michael Alves ‘17
“Met Mario Molina today. He’s the guy who got a Nobel Prize for co-discovering the impact of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer.”

Auggie conducts summer research at UC San Diego: After a competitive application process, Michael Alves ‘17, was accepted into a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) funded by the Center for Aerosol Impacts on the Climate and the Environment (CAICE).

“My interest lies broadly in Atmospheric Chemistry, leading me to dedicate a lot of my time to literature reviews in this area. This led me to a couple names fairly frequently. Dr. Kim Prather and Dr. Vicki Grassian are prevalent figures in the atmospheric chemistry field and I genuinely wanted to work with both of them. Thus, I applied and received funding to attend the 2016 American Chemical Society Conference in San Diego from Augsburg College so that I could meet with the Grassian Research Group and learn more about the work done at the labs in UCSD. My intuition about these labs was correct and I ultimately decided that it was a great opportunity for my development as a researcher.”

Alves transferred to Augsburg College after receiving his Associates degree from Minneapolis Community Technical College in the spring ‘15, and, after deciding against applying to bigger schools like the University of Minnesota, applied exclusively to Augsburg. “Without AugSTEM, I wouldn’t be coming to Augsburg,” said Alves. “I really like it here. I would rather choose this over anything else.”

Alves is currently working with Professor Dave Hanson in a project related to atmospheric chemistry. Identifying his passions and interests allowed him to receive mentorship from Dr. Hanson early on. “I got hired by Dave for the both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic year, from his own funding,” said Alves. “When I am not in classes, I fill my time working about 10-20 hours a week for Dr. Hanson on a few projects during the academic year, namely the building of a mass spectrometer and the conducting of sulfuric acid nucleation measurements.”

Additionally, Alves is a McNair Scholar, as well as an AugSTEM scholar. “Sitting in my courses at Minneapolis Technical and Community College (MCTC), I never would have imagined that I would be trying to get my PhD in chemistry at the University Of California San Diego (UCSD). As a first-generation college and low-income student, the option of a PhD was not a real option until I transferred to Augsburg College as a McNair Scholar and had the opportunity to devise my own research proposal.” Alves also serves is the President of the Augsburg Chemistry Society where his main goal is to do outreach events at community colleges and public high schools in order to provide information on opportunities that they may be unaware of.

Alves will be graduating from Augsburg in the spring of 2017, with a Bachelor’s of Science and Honors in Chemistry. We, at Augsburg collectively wish him the best as he continues with his journey towards a PhD in Chemistry!

Written by Hilena Frew ’17

Michael Alves and the Augsburg Chemistry Faculty
Michael Alves and the Augsburg Chemistry Faculty


Pre-Health Profile: Kayla Roberge ’15, Physician Assistant Program

KaylaRobergeKayla Roberge graduated in spring 2015 with a degree in biology and a plan to apply to the three Physician Assistant (PA) programs located in the Twin Cities. As she explains, “A Physician Assistant is a medical professional who works under the supervision of a Physician. They can diagnose and prescribe medicine, develop treatment plans, perform procedures, as well as assist on surgeries. Their flexibility allows them to be able to be a part of a vast amount of specialties and experiences.”

Kayla will start the MPAS program at St. Catherine University in Fall 2016. We caught up with her to learn more about how she chose her PA program and what advice she has for students looking to apply.

Q: What led you to apply to the program you chose?

A: When I began thinking about applying to a program, it was important for me to stay close to home. I had already tried leaving the twin cities area once as a freshman in college before I transferred to Augsburg, and I knew it wasn’t for me. So ultimately, since there were then only 3 PA schools in Minnesota, I applied to all of them. I really had my heart set on St. Kate’s, though, because I had heard so many great things about their program.

Q: What activities (volunteer, work, clubs, research, shadowing, etc.) did you pursue during your undergraduate career that helped you focus your application and give you experience?

A: I did various activities throughout college that were all vital to strengthening my application. I was the captain of the cross country and track teams at Augsburg, and the Vice President of the Tri Beta Club. In addition to this, I spent time volunteering at U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital, and working part time as a Medical Scribe in ED and Urgent Care. I also spent some time researching with Matt Beckman and travelling to present my research. One of the most beneficial volunteer work I did was becoming a Research Associate in the Emergency Department at HCMC. Overall, some of the other useful jobs I did was in home care for the elderly and for special education.

Q: If you could go back and give yourself advice on the application process with what you know now, what would you say? Would you have done anything differently?

A: There are MANY pieces of advice that I would give myself. If I could, I would go talk to my freshman-in-college self and advise her to focus on 2-3 big, long-term volunteer/work experiences that I could do in order to gain more hours at the same job. I ended up taking on way too much and in the end it made my application look slightly less impressive. Also, I would advise myself to start EARLY. I was so caught up in my last year of college, as well as trying to gain the most experiences that I could, that I really was not prepared for the application process and how much writing was involved.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as you begin your graduate studies?

A: I am so excited about beginning my program! I am excited to meet all of my classmates and to get through the first phase of being in the classroom to move on to the clinical phase. I cannot wait to experience different specialties and really figure out where I belong in the healthcare field!

Written by Mary Cornelius ‘16


Fulbright Spotlight: Katie MacAulay ’09


Join URGO on April 5 at 2 p.m. and April 6 at 10:30 a.m. in Sverdrup 102 to learn more about how to apply for Fulbright.

Katie MacAulay graduated from Augsburg in 2009 with a degree in International Relations She is currently working in Uganda with as a Research Associate with Innovations for Poverty Action doing research in food security. Katie did her Fulbright work teaching English in Malaysia. Here she talks about her experience with Fulbright.

How did you decide to apply for a Fulbright? What interested you about the program?

I studied International Relations, so the opportunity to live abroad for a year and participate in a fully-funded and prestigious fellowship was enough intrigue for me to apply!

What are some of the most meaningful lessons you learned from your year as a Fulbrighter?

The world is big and the human condition is similar everywhere you go.

How did you change or grow from the experience?

I would like to think I became a more patient, thoughtful and empathetic person and that I have more permanently embodied these traits. Being the de facto expert on all-things-English-related certainly challenged me to take on roles and responsibilities I would not naturally feel qualified for. My year in Malaysia cultivated a deeper sense of self-reliance and confidence that has permeated all areas of my life. Further, my Fulbright experience has informed all career decisions I have made since, drawing me towards international development issues, ultimately leading me back abroad.

The Fulbright program is designed to be an inter-cultural exchange. How did you get to know those in your community? How did you learn about your host country and its culture?

Smiling. It’s the international language. I spent the year incredibly conscious of my outward attitude and expressions. Just appearing warm and inviting goes a long way in making people feel comfortable enough to approach you. I very much felt like my year there was ‘fake it ‘til you believe it’ – that I could teach over 1,000 students English, that I could give an impromptu speech in front of 3,000 community members and dignitaries, that I could advise the State Government and U.S. Embassy in educational areas. Despite what I was feeling internally, smiling and being warm led to the most welcoming invitations from my host-culture, resulting in some of my most memorable moments—sitting cross-legged on the ground, breaking fast during Ramadan with a teacher from my local school; driving along the Terengganu coast and pitching a tent on the beach with one of my students’ families; discussing US pop-culture trends with my students and encouraging debates. Smiling, being curious and asking lots of questions undoubtedly helped me assimilate into my host-culture.

What are you doing now? What are your plans for the future?

I am currently living and working in Kampala, Uganda as a Research Associate with Innovations for Poverty Action, evaluating the impact of an agricultural project. After Fulbright I lived in Washington D.C. for three years working in microfinance, before moving to Uganda, and now intend to pursue an MBA with a concentration in Social Enterprise.

What advice would you give to a current Augsburg student who is considering applying to Fulbright?

Do it! Give yourself as many options and opportunities as possible, post-graduation. At the very least, the application process is incredibly reflective and will prepare you for all of the cover letters and applications you’ll likely be writing in the near future anyway. At the very best, Augsburg is a top producer of Fulbright fellows, which speaks volumes about the amount of thoughtful and constructive attention and support you will receive from the URGO office staff, throughout the process. Give yourself enough time to put forth your best effort, research countries you would like to live/study and/or teach in, do your research, ask lots of questions and start drafting your essays.